If you’ve ever looked into how perfumes, colognes, and fragrances work and what you need to make your own, you’ve probably heard about perfumer’s alcohol. Yes, almost every perfume you use will have alcohol as an ingredient.
However, this doesn’t mean you can open up a bottle of hard liquor and add it to your new cologne. A special type of alcohol needs to be used to make your perfume long-lasting, smelling its best, and stable.
But what is perfumer’s alcohol? How is it used? Where can you buy it should you want to make your own cologne? We answer all these questions in this article.
What Is Perfumer’s Alcohol?
Cologne, fragrances, and perfumes are usually made using a combination of essential oils and mixing them with alcohol and glycerin. The alcohol is used to make the solution volatile so that the essential oils in the fragrance can evaporate evenly and give you a long-lasting scent.
Choosing a Perfumer’s Alcohol
You have to consider multiple factors when choosing the right perfumer’s alcohol for your cologne. The alcohol you use needs to be safe to use on your skin to be applied without causing rashes or reactions.
Another thing you need to keep in mind is the volatility. Alcohol is volatile in general, but there is a certain temperature at which it starts to evaporate. If the temperature is just right, your mix of alcohol and essential oils will start evaporating at the right rate to make you smell good in public.
You also have to consider the mixing capabilities of the alcohol you’re using. If you’re making your own cologne, you need to pick the right type of alcohol to ensure maximum mixability. Your top tones, heart tones, and base tones will come off nicely once the essential oils are evenly mixed in the alcohol.
Another factor you need to consider is the additives used in your perfumer’s alcohol. Ethanol or ethyl alcohol are the proper ingredients to have. However, if your alcohol has been denatured by adding other ingredients, it won’t be safe for use.
A good example of this is methanol, which is commonly used for denatured alcohol. This is toxic and can be absorbed through your skin, making it dangerous for use in perfume.
The last factor you have to consider while making your cologne is the shelf life of the alcohol. Once you’ve bottled your perfume, it should have a long shelf life, as long as it’s stored in a cool, dry place. However, alcohols with lower shelf lives will start to separate from the oils, making your cologne unfit for use.
Why Perfumer’s Alcohol?
Why do you need alcohol to create a perfume? Surely, essential oils on their own would smell good enough for a cologne?
Alcohol plays a major role in making your perfume more usable. While essential oils can be used safely in aromatherapy, they are not safe for direct use on the skin. Essential oils are very concentrated, and you can end up with rashes and other skin complications if they come in direct contact with your skin.
Mixing these essential oils with alcohol can dilute this effect to the point of safety. Another reason why they need to be diluted is that their scent can be overpowering to the level of smelling bad if they are used directly. Diluting them with alcohol brings out the subtle floral, woody, or citrus smell associated with the oils.
Alcohol is also volatile, which means that your mix of essential oils will travel more through the air once it’s mixed. If your solution does not evaporate, people might not be able to smell the notes of your perfume.
How Strong Should Perfumer’s Alcohol Be?
Not all alcohol is created the same, and you cannot pop over to the nearest shop and pick up some gin to mix with your perfume. This is partly because of the smell associated with the alcohol and partly because of the strength.
While hard liquor contains just around 40% pure ethanol by volume, you need at least 70% for a good perfumer’s alcohol. You can order perfumer’s alcohol with as high as almost 100% ethanol (200 proof) for the best results.
These numbers are not as confusing as they might seem. Proof is defined as twice the amount of ethanol present in the solution by volume. Therefore, a 40% v/v whiskey is 80 proof alcohol.
Similarly, a 100% ethanol solution will be considered 200 proof. If you’re looking to buy perfumer’s alcohol online, check for at least 70% v/v or 140 proof in the specifications.
How Much Perfumer’s Alcohol Is in Cologne?
If you’re making your own perfume at home, you will need to understand how much perfumer’s alcohol you need to add to the bottle to give you the right ratio. Experts say that your bottle of perfume should have about 60% ethanol if you’re going for a light, floral scent, while the remaining 40% can be a mixture of your essential oils.
Therefore, if you’re making 30 milliliters of cologne, 18 millimeters of it should be perfumer’s alcohol. Like your mix of essential oils, you can play around with this ratio to find something that works best for you.
The Bottom Line
Alcohol plays an important part and is a key ingredient in perfumes. If you want to create your own perfume, you need to get proper perfumer’s alcohol to mix the essential oils completely, create the right amount of volatility, and be safe to use on your skin.
What is perfumer’s alcohol? We hope that this article has given you an insight on everything you need to know. If you’re interested in similar topics about colognes and fragrances, please check out our other posts as well!